If "soca in me veins, soca in me blood" is blaring through your car windows and you're threatening to pull over and do the soca wine, it can only mean it's Saturday afternoon and time again for Mike Andrews's Caribbean Connection. Andrews has been host of the most energetic show on South Florida airwaves for about the past 20 years. When he's not giving you the latest sports scores and reading the most-talked-about news items from his native Trinidad, Andrews is spinning popular sides from the island country's finest musicians. It's not all infectious soca, though. You'll get an education in calypso, parang, chutney, steelband, and other musical styles from the Caribbean. And if you're really lucky, you'll catch Andrews singing over those Carnival tapes smuggled in from Trinidad.

David Castillo Gallery
Photo by Carolina Del Busto

David Castillo's work ethic would have put the Puritans to shame. The young dealer often clocks 14-hour days, out-hustling competitors and regularly organizing gallery and museum shows for his modest stable of emerging and midcareer artists. The Yale grad has been in the business 13 years, successfully trafficking in the secondary modern art market with the museum trade. But it's in his pristine Wynwood gallery where Castillo is leaving heavy footprints on the local scene. From Pepe Mar's impish cut-up three-dimensional collages, riffing on pop culture artifice, to Andrew Guenther's psychedelic lobster-clawed space aliens, to Leyden Rodriguez-Casanova's brainy excavations of contemporary domestic life, Castillo's shows have been consummately curated and first-rate. It comes as no surprise that one of Miami's sharpest talents, Glexis Novoa, has recently entered Castillo's budding stable, considering the gallery has been swamped by more than 3,000 artist submissions since opening in 2005.

From its informative Morning Lecture Series on the monumental figures of 20th-century architecture, to the breathtaking Herzog and de Meuron design for Museum Park, Miami Art Museum (MAM) finds itself swept up in a whirlwind of buzz. MAM also mounted one of its most memorable exhibition seasons in years. "Tamayo: A Modern Icon Reinterpreted" marked the Mexican master's first major U.S. exhibition in 30 years. It featured nearly 100 of Rufino Tamayo's paintings, many not shown publicly for decades, offering an in-depth examination of a prolific career spanning 70 years. "The Killing Machine and Other Stories 1995-2007," by Canadian artists Janet Cardiff and George Bures Miller, marked the first entry in the ambitious MAC @ MAM sweeps. The sprawling exhibit featured 11 multimedia installations mixing opera, art films, and literature with B movies, rock and roll, and radio broadcasts. MAM's current exhibit, "Wifredo Lam in North America," herds more than 80 of the Chinese/Afro-Cuban master's works, more than a quarter-century after the artist's death, finally giving the controversial Lam his due in the Big Mango. Throw in the museum's thoughtful educational and family programming and it adds up to an enticing recipe for stampedes all year.

You're lying in bed one early Sunday, head under the covers, when a group of chirpy Christians knocks on your door. After spotting them through the peephole, you cross your fingers and pray they shove off. Hell-bent on salvation, they keep banging away, eager to bring the pagan on the wrong side of the threshold into Jesus' fold. Before giving up, the anonymous evangelists slip a check from the "Bank of Heaven" under the door. It reads, "Pay to the order of everyone without The Lord Jesus Christ." The sum for those unwilling to bend their knees for the glory of redemption? "Eternal Death — Torment Forever in the Lake of Fire."

Best Basel Headline Grab by a Local Artist

Maite Josune

When Baselphrenia grips the Big Orange each year, the moonberries creep out of the woodwork, eager to add some homespun flair to the planet's greatest arts confab. Some peddle nickel bags of art and push shopping carts full of ephemeral trash across town, others splooge art swells with the sodden contents of a four-foot-long pneumatic pink-foam pecker. But Maite Josune froze traffic on NW Second Avenue and 23rd Street in Wynwood during the fair with her car-wreck-cum-jungle installation, which she christened "Mind the Snails." The nervy Josune salvaged a 1995 Mazda MX-3; slathered it in acidy cranberry, cobalt, and lemon yellow hues; and plopped it down in front of Art Miami for maximum media exposure. She covered the jalopy with huge white and green snails as symbols that "no artist should be left behind." To crown her achievement, Josune planted ficus, ferns, and palms from her Kendall garden in the car's trunk, bringing a loopy dash of suburbia to dreary art district. The homeless loved it, sleeping in her vehicle long after chichi art patrons evacuated the area at nightfall. Josune's problems arose when neighboring galleries called the cops to complain. Miami Police ticketed and impounded the tagless art piece, apparently unimpressed by the enterprising artist's conceptual clunker.

Public basketball courts are a mixed bag. Some are so filthy that if you simply dribble around for 10 minutes, your hands turn black with dirt and grime. And don't fall, because that hand you put down to save yourself might land on a used condom, or needle, or maybe some broken glass. That's why when a new court opens, it appears as an oasis in the desert of dilapidated and poorly managed ones.

Normandy Isle Park is such a refuge: The green asphalt is smooth and free of cracks, nets hang from the rims, the courts are well lit, and water fountains function. A lot of things can ruin a public basketball court: a dominant crew monopolizing court time and intimidating newbies, an atmosphere that promotes bickering over every call, interminable waits to get in on a game. Nothing is worse than showing up for some pick-up hoops and finding a bunch of meatheads posturing and running their mouths more than the court. Normandy Isle, perhaps because it hasn't been around long enough — it was christened last year — is free from all of those things. Best of all, if you're playing during one of those sweltering Miami days, just hop in the park's pool when the games end.

At one time in our city's history, you could visit Virginia Key and discover signs that told you exactly where you were: "Colored Only," they read, and black residents knew this was the only slice of South Florida where they were allowed to sink their toes into the sand or enjoy the sensation of sun-warmed seawater on their skin. Flash-forward a few years, and Virginia Key was known for two things: the sewage treatment plant and Jimbo's. Nowadays Jimbo's is still going strong (thank the Lord for drunken tradition), and the tables of history have turned for old Virginny. The beach is back, better than ever, and it's open to sun and sand lovers of all creeds and races. The park makes full use of its 82 acres, with areas to camp, places to picnic, spots to sunbathe, nature trails to hike, and a brand-new carousel to ride with the kiddies. There's even a stage for live performances. And then, of course, there's the beach: serene and beautiful, with calm, lapping waters you won't be afraid to splash in. Soon you'll be saying, "South Beach where?" And, "Crandon what?"

Forget about the people who blog about their favorite movies or their kids or the vegan meals they eat every day. Eye on Miami is smart, witty, and informative — almost like daily newspapers used to be. It's the conscience of the local blogosphere, concentrating on foreclosures, housing woes, corrupt politicians, and the rampant waste of taxpayer money in our community. It's an easy-to-read, simply designed site — the right-column index of scofflaws and newsy topics is especially handy — with an edgy voice. The two people who run the site (Genius of Despair and Gimleteye) do it anonymously, but they still let their personalities shine through. (One classic post described Genius of Despair accidentally hitting University of Miami President Donna Shalala with a chair at a concert.) What the blog does best, however, is research and explain the often hard-to-understand issues in our area. The bloggers think nothing of taking a news story printed in the Herald and explaining the festering, moldy truth that lies beneath the people quoted in the story. They research foreclosures, lobbyist records, and campaign donations — often with sobering results. The truth isn't pretty here in the Magic City, but thankfully Eye on Miami is watching.

Phillip and Patricia Frost Museum of Science
Photo by Amadeus McCaskill

The bronto-size exhibit filled the Miami Science Museum with some of the rarest dinosaur fossils on the planet in a sensational show that made its U.S. debut in our own back yard. It boasted a whopping 14 of the reptilian behemoths' mounted skeletons, as well as an impressive array of pristinely preserved feathered dinosaur and bird fossils hailed as the missing link between the meat-eating dinos and the earliest bird. The undisputed star was an 85-foot fossilized skeleton of Mamenchisaurus jingyanesi, one of the longest-necked beasts to have ever trod the Earth. The length of two school buses, the gargantuan creature was featured in the "round-up" scene in the Jurassic Park sequel The Lost World and was the favorite of local students visiting the show during public school tours. The museum even built an interactive playroom where the sandbox set could unleash their inner paleontologists, freeing mesmerized parents to roam the enlightening boneyard on their own.

If you lived in South Beach from roughly 1987 to 1997 — during those transitional years when the area was no longer God's Waiting Room but not yet Developers' Heaven; when the low-rent buildings were populated by unemployed artists, barely employed writers, drag queens, drug dealers, Holocaust survivors, fashionistas, club kids, refugees from wherever, wannabe whatevers, plus the glut of trend-sniffing celebrities who kept it all unreal — then this book will bring back everything you've forgotten. Which is likely everything; the drugs were better then. Fortunately author Brian Antoni, who moved to SoBe in the late Eighties and researched Miami's hottest nightspots for the next 20 years, did remember all, thanks to a secret weapon: a pad in his pocket. And he tells all in this novel, with charmingly ingenuous prose that perfectly evokes the oddly innocent decadence of the era. Disclaimer: Resemblance to any real people, living or dead, is purely coincidental. Hah. Figuring out the real identities of the thinly disguised rapacious real estate moguls, crooked politicians, and other local icons is half the fun.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®